For the earlier developments in this fast breaking story see my last dairy:
BREAKING: #Turkey calls #Syria attack "hostile act" on #NATO
NATO has just concluded the consultation meeting called by Turkey after its reconnaissance jet was shot down by Syria. They did not decided to take any military action at this time. Article 5 was not invoked. They just issued the following statement:
NAC Statement on the shooting down of a Turkish aircraft by Syria
26-Jun-2012 11:44 Brussels
The North Atlantic Council has met at Turkey's request to hold consultations within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty which states that "the Parties will consult whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the Parties is threatened."
The North Atlantic Council discussed the shooting down of a Turkish aircraft by Syria. We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life.
Our thoughts at this difficult time are with the missing Turkish aircrew, their families and their loved ones. We continue to follow the situation closely and with great concern, and will remain seized of developments on the South-Eastern border of NATO.
The security of the Alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.
AP released this at 3:18am pst:
Turkey threatens Syria with retaliation
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkey's prime minister, responding to the downing of a Turkish jet by Syrian forces, said Tuesday that Turkish military will respond to any future violation of its border by Syrian military elements.
"The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria by posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target."
Syria insists that the Turkish plane violated its air space on Friday. But Turkey says that although the unarmed RF-4E reconnaissance jet had unintentionally strayed into Syria's air space, it was inside international airspace when it was brought down.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance condemns it "in the strongest terms," and expressed solidarity with Turkey, but made no mention of retaliatory action.
Erdogan said Syria shot down the unarmed plane in international airspace in a 'deliberate' and 'hostile' act and without warning. He said border violations in the region were not uncommon. He said Syrian helicopters violated Turkish airspace five times recently, without Turkish response.
"No one should be deceived by our cold blooded stance," Erdogan said. "Our acting with common sense should not be perceived as a weakness."
Ahamad Khaled Barre becomes the 18th Brigadier General to defect from Assad
Here is the current list. Click on links for YouTube videos:
1. Brigadier General Dean Radwan defected and joined the FSA 12.10.2011
2. Brigadier General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh defected and joined the FSA 08.01.2012
3. Brigadier General Fayez Qaddour defected and joined the FSA 14.02.2012
4. Brigadier General Adnan al-Qasim Farzat defected and joined the FSA 06.03.2012
5. Brigadier General Hossam Alawak defected and joined the FSA 12.03.2012
6. Brigadier General Hussein Mohamed defected and joined the FSA 27.03.2012
7. Brigadier General Ziad Ismail Fahad defected and joined the FSA 28.03.2012
8. Brigadier General Adnan al-Ahmad defected and joined the FSA 28.03.2012
9. Brigadier General Mouhammad Razzuq defected and joined the FSA 31.03.2012
10. Brigadier General Muhammad Yahya Bittar defected and joined the FSA 01.04.2012
11. Brigadier General Ghazi al-Jaber Abboud defected and joined the FSA 04.05.2012
12. Brigadier General Hassan Nasser defected and joined the FSA 22.05.2012
13. Brigadier General Mohammad Rahhal defected and joined the FSA 26.05.2012
14. Brigadier Gen Mahmoud Qitaz & his son defected and joined the FSA 27.05.2012
15. Brigadier General Mohammad Anwar Saad al-Deen defected and joined the FSA 04.06.2012
16. Brigadier General Muhammad Amal Zakaria defected and joined the FSA 21.06.2012
17. Brigadier General Abdullah Amal Zakaria defected and joined the FSA 21.06.2012
18. Brigadier General Ahamad Khaled Barre defected and joined the FSA 25.06.2012
Another massive defection & formation of "Omar bin Abdul Aziz" Brigade. 6 26, 2012
And we have this report of FSA ground action:
The FSA from Lakakia province that raided a ammo dump last week killing more then 20 Assad troops got hold of a number off Truck based Grad launchers.
They where used this evening to bombard Bassel Al-Assad International Airport
Location 35°24'6"N 35°56'47"E
The attack was directed at the Northern End of the Base where the Terminal is(was)and the choppers and ammo storage Major Damage was reported also on the runway.
Most choppers are on fire now and ammo is still exploding.
The Attack was done from the east for obvious reasons I will not give this coordinates. The attack was done about 00.35 local time
And finally, we have this twitter report from @AletheiaLibya:
Mass defection of 200 soldiers in #Idlib is another sign that the #Assad regime could ultimately collapse faster than anyone expects. #SyriaThis was followed up by @Ugariti_Homsi who tweeted:
Accr to Aljazeera, 200 soldiers defect from the army in #Idlib and are engaged in clashes with the loyalist troops. #Syria
And Al Jazeera English is running this this morning:
Deadly clashes in Damascus suburbs 26 Jun 2012 11:41
Dozens reported dead during fighting on edges of capital and other parts of Syria between army and opposition fighters.
Dozens of people have been killed in fierce clashes between Syria troops and opposition fighters, mainly in the suburbs of Damascus, monitoring groups have reported.
Opposition forces and Syrian army units were locked in fierce clashes around elite Republican Guard posts in the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an activist monitoring group, said on Tuesday.
"Violent clashes are taking place around positions of the Republican Guard in Qudssaya and Al-Hama," eight kilometres from central Damascus, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, told the AFP news agency.
Fighting has intensified in past weeks in and around the capital, where government buildings and security posts are heavily defended, but the violence on Tuesday was the most intense in the area, Abdel Rahman said.
"This is the first time that the regime uses artillery in fighting so close to the capital," he said.
"This development is important because it's the heaviest fighting in the area and close to the heart of the capital."
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said that the reports of clashes in Damascus were significant as most opposition attacks on the Syrian army had previously only been overnight attacks.
"This shows how desperate rebels are to bring the fighting to capital and also how desperate the Syrian government is to keep opposition fighters back," she said.
The opposition fighters blew up an artillery gun at the entrance to Qudssaya, said Abdel Rahman.
"These suburbs are home to barracks of troops which are very important for the regime like the Republican Guard," he said.
"This is also where families of [army] officers live."
'Large military vehicles'
The SOHR reported that Syrian troops, backed by "large military vehicles", stormed the Barzeh neighbourhood of Damascus, amid heavy shooting.
Another monitoring organisation, the Local Co-ordination Committees in Syria (LCC), reported one fatality in the area as well as many other people injured as the "army stormed the neighborhood with tanks, armored vehicles, and a large number of soldiers".
The SOHR reported major shelling by Syrian forces on opposition fighters in al-Reef, on the outskirts of Damascus.
"Intense shelling by the Syrian regime and also intense clashes with rebels fighters in [Al-Hamaeh town]. Also, sounds of explosions in the suburbs of Doumar and Qudssaya, areas outside of Damascus," the observatory said.
The Revolution Leadership Council of Damascus reported seven fatalities and 13 people injured in Al-Hamaeh.
"Continuous ... shelling, sounds of gunfire, and snipers on building rooftops [in Al-Hamaeh]," it said.
"Telephone landlines and cell phone lines are disconnected, in addition to electricity cut off. Military reinforcement is on the way to the area now."
Elsewhere in the country, the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, in the northwest, was hit by "more than 20 shells in half an hour" after midnight, according to the observatory, which gave no casualty toll.
The LCC reported that there has also been fierce fighting in old Homs. "Fierce rocket bombing in Old Homs neighbourhoods, and massive explosions from bombing," it said.
On Monday, 95 people were killed, including 61 civilians, as the army pounded rebel strongholds and other towns and cities, according to activists,
The SOHR, which is based in the UK, says the government's suppression of the uprising, which began in March last year, has cost more than 15,000 lives.
Following a statement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the regime of Bashar al-Assad is a threat to the security of Turkey, on the border with Syria had massed a large amount of Turkish military equipment, "Zaman" newspaper reported.
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW, June 26 (Reuters) - Russia is expected to deliver air defence systems, reconditioned helicopters and fighter jets to Syria this year worth nearly half a billion dollars despite international pressure to halt arms sales to Damascus, a defence think-tank said on Tuesday.
The report, by CAST, a Moscow-based think tank, is likely to fuel concerns that Russia is supplying President Bashar al-Assad with arms that are being used against protesters taking part in an uprising against him and air defence systems that could be deployed in the event of international military intervention.
Obtained by Reuters before publication, the report shows a series of contracts that were signed between 2005 and 2007 are at the heart of Russia's arms sales to Syria, which has been rocked by a vicious cycle of violence for the last 16 months.
The deals were signed long before the start of the rebellion in Syria and after Moscow wrote off some 70 percent of Syria's $13.4 billion debt to Russia and the former Soviet Union, a stumbling block that froze Moscow's arms cooperation with Damascus throughout the 1990s.
Russia is expected to start delivering 12 top-of-the-line MiG-29 fighter jets this year and to deliver a batch of repaired Mi-25 attack helicopters, the report said.
It said air defence systems expected to be delivered to Syria this year included the Buk-M2E, which Moscow began delivering in 2010, and Pantsir-S1 armoured rocket complexes, which are designed to help protect troops against air attacks.
UN peacekeeping chief: Syria too dangerous, mission wont resume
June 26, 2012, 9:16 pm
Mission head tells Security Council observers had suffered direct fire at least 10 times
UNITED NATIONS (AP) The U.N. peacekeeping chief has told the Security Council that its too dangerous for U.N. observers in Syria to resume their mission.
A diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tuesday that Herve Ladsous told a closed council meeting that the mission could restart at some point but that for the time being, its too dangerous.
U.N. forces in Syria repeatedly came under fire before the U.N. suspended the 300-member mission earlier this month.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the missions head, told the council at the time that the observers had suffered direct fire at least 10 times, had been in several indirect fire incidents. He said nine U.N. vehicles had been damaged or struck by small arms fire.
Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that his country, in the grips of an anti-regime uprising now in its 16th month, is in a real situation of war.
We are witnessing a real situation of war, state news agency SANA quoted him as telling a meeting of the new Syrian cabinet.
But Assad insisted that when one is in a state of war, all our policies and capabilities must be used to secure victory.
The speech followed Assad swearing in the new government, in images broadcast on state television.
The president had issued a decree to form the new government on Saturday, shaking up many cabinet posts but keeping the heads of the interior, defense and foreign ministries, state television reported.
The reappointment of Defense Minister Daoud Rajha will quash widespread rumors, previously denied by the government, that he had been assassinated by rebels who are struggling to bring down Assad's rule.
Here are my related diaries:
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout